IKEA Takes Entrepreneurial Approach To Humanitarian Work In The Middle East


IKEA is planning to open production centres in middle eastern refugee camps later this year in an effort to create entrepreneurial opportunities to disadvantaged areas.

With the help of the Jordan River Foundation, IKEA formulated a long-term plan to create employment for 200,000 disadvantaged people around the world which will begin in the middle eastern area of Jordan, where a mixture of Syrian refugees and Jordanians will be employed in the production of woven products including rugs, cushions and bedspreads.

IKEA will build and equip the production centres, in which skilled craftspeople will work on handmade items, according to Dezeen.

The Jordan River Foundation will reportedly manage the facilities and employ 100 people to start with, rising to 400 people within two years. Half will be refugees and half local workers.

According to Dezeen, the project follows a range of similar social entrepreneur-led projects in disadvantaged communities around the world, which already employ 2,000 people. Initiatives already up and running include projects with female entrepreneurs in India and a programme employing immigrant women in Sweden.

IKEA Head of range and supply Jesper Brodin told Dezeen that while it may take up to 10-15 years, he wanted to see them become future suppliers.

"We offer a business model, learning opportunities, simple skills around how to plan production and set yourself up for export," said Mr Brodin.

IKEA will work with social entrepreneurs – organisations that use business techniques to tackle social problems, as opposed to aid-based approaches – which will provide employment while ensuring standards for both working conditions and production quality are met.

Dezeen said the centres will be located in northern Jordan, in camps strung along the border with Syria, from where an estimated 1.3 million refugees have poured since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011.

IKEA will send a team of designers to Jordan in the next few weeks to define the types of products that could be produced, with hopes that the initiative will be up and running by August.


Image courtesy IKEA Foundation.

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